UNICEF: 1.7 Million Ukrainian Children Suffering from Conflict, Cold
Children in war-torn areas of eastern Ukraine are facing an “extremely serious” situation as the conflict there continues into winter’s deep freeze.
UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, said more than 1.7 million Ukrainian children face grave dangers as a result of the ongoing fighting, which has displaced more than 1 million people since March. Of these, some 130,000 are children. At least 44 children have been killed during the course of the war.
“Children continue to bear the brunt of this conflict, with schooling disrupted and access to basic services limited,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF regional director for Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“Some are witness to violent fighting and shelling,” she continued. “We remind all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to ensure all children are protected from the ongoing violence.”
“Extremely harsh winter conditions have made the impact of the crisis more acute,” Poirier added.
Many of those forced from their homes lack access to safe drinking water, sanitation and schools. According to UNICEF, the fighting has resulted in the closure of 147 schools in Donetsk Oblast alone. In government-controlled areas, 187 schools have been damaged or destroyed.
UNICEF says it needs $32.4 million to adequately address the current emergency affecting 600,000 Ukrainian children and their families. This amount would pay for education, health care and access to safe drinking water and hygiene supplies. It has raised $9.4 million.
“[We are] grateful for contributions received to date. We call for urgent support to help UNICEF and partners to scale up our response to meet these children’s critical needs,” said Poirier.
Ukrainian government forces have been battling pro-Russia separatists and some Russian troops since April, after a Russian invasion in support of the rebels resulted in Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
A September ceasefire hammered out in Minsk, Belarus has collapsed, with fighting once again raging at pre-truce levels. At a televised briefing on Friday, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that five government troops had been killed and seven others wounded in the past 24 hours.